Uneven spread of parks in Delhi: 2.3K in South Delhi, 142 in north-east
The analysis, by the Centre for Youth Culture Law and Environment (CYCLE), showed that parks cover 8.1% of south-east Delhi’s total area. A wide gulf separates the top and bottom of the list, with parks covering just 1.2% of north-east Delhi.
The Capital has over 18,000 parks and gardens, but most of them are concentrated in just five districts, a new analysis has found, with the fewest such spaces in the congested north-east Delhi region, throwing up concerns over the inequitable spread of green patches in the rapidly expanding margins of the city.
The analysis, by the Centre for Youth Culture Law and Environment (CYCLE), showed that parks cover 8.1% of south-east Delhi’s total area, with the district topping the list in terms of percentage covered. West Delhi is second, with such spots spread over 6.6% of the district and East Delhi third with 6.3%.
South and New Delhi districts have parks and gardens on 6% of their area each.
A wide gulf separates the top and bottom of the list, with parks covering just 1.2% of north-east Delhi. North and south-west Delhi fare only marginally better, with 2.3%.
The NGO used data from the Delhi Parks and Gardens Society (DPGS) as well as Geospatial Delhi Limited (GSDL) to create a digital map of Delhi’s parks.
Paras Tyagi, president of CYCLE India, said that though Delhi is known for its greenery, with over 23% percent of the Capital’s geographical area under green cover, the distribution of this is fairly uneven.
“Access to parks is not easy for everyone, particularly in the outer parts of Delhi, where unauthorised colonies and urbanisation are adding more concrete, but not enough parks or greenery to go along with it,” says Tyagi.
India’s National Forest Policy aims at bringing a minimum of one-third of India’s total geographical area under green cover. The green cover should be at least 66% of the total area in hilly regions and 20% in the plains, the policy says. Delhi exceeds that benchmark already.
“There is a need to revisit urban spaces and try and find solutions as concretisation has increased at a large scale in urban cities,” he says.
In absolute terms, South Delhi has the most parks, with such green patches spread over 2,373 acres of the 38,995 acre-district. New Delhi district (the Lutyens’ area) is a close second, with 2,325 acres of parks.
To be sure, absolute numbers don’t provide a necessarily accurate picture of a region’s green cover. For instance, Shahdara has the second-lowest number of parks in terms of acreage (496 acres), but is also Delhi’s smallest district by some distance, spread over just 8,900 acres.
However, here too, North-east Delhi is at the bottom of the pile, with only 142 acres of parks across the 11,141-acre district.
Tyagi said the divide is not apparent just when districts are compared with each other, but also when they are analysed individually.
“Not a single district has a uniform spread of this basic facility,” he said.
Chandra Bhushan, CEO at iForest says poor planning has been key the factor behind such poor distribution of green patches all around the Capital.
“An area over 5% percent under parks is still good, but one needs the right mix of parks, gardens, open spaces and forested area too. Delhi has a lot of forest cover as well, but the problem has been the lack of planning as Delhi has slowly developed over the last decades. There is ample green space in central and New Delhi as Lutyens’ was a planned area, whereas with the city slowly stretching out wide, more and more unplanned development took place. This has, unfortunately, not given the same importance to parks,” said Bhushan.
He said that north-east Delhi saw a lot of post-Partition settlement and the focus was to settle as many people as possible. However, no corrective measures were taken after that, he added.
A resident of Budhela in west Delhi, Tyagi said commercial functions on parks were also gnawing away at an already scarce utility.
Residents across Delhi said urbanisation, even in traditionally agricultural areas, was limited access to green spaces.
Jitender Yadav, from south-west Delhi’s Jhuljhuli village, said basic public services such as parks or playgrounds are missing from both agricultural and residential areas.
“In places where there is farm land, there is still open space, but what about areas where there is rapid urbanisation, like Najafgarh? Villages lost gram sabha land to the DDA [Delhi Development Authority] but there is no plan to provide people of these villages utilities on these land parcels,” he said.
Haripal Dabas from Kanjhawala village in northwest Delhi says similar woes are plaguing the area. “Since 1993, the village has been undergoing the process of land consolidation and gradually all the gram sabha land came in possession of the Delhi government. This has neither been transferred further to the DDA, nor has been developed into any park or a playing area for the children. We wonder what values will the next generation grow up with and where will they get to play,” he states.
Diwan Singh, an environmentalist, who is also the convener of the Mundka Kirari Harit Abhiyaan, said there is plenty of land to carve out green spaces, particularly in the margins of Delhi.
“In north, south-west and west Delhi, land is being utilised to develop industries or housing societies, but parks are not being created in the same ratio. The land available needs to be developed into green spaces too and this will provide spaces for locals to play and thrive in,” he says.
The Delhi government has been working on a ‘Green Park, Green Delhi’ initiative, which aims to redevelop and maintain existing parks in the Capital. Already, over 16,000 parks have been surveyed, out of which 6,345 parks were found to not be maintained.
A state government official said the DPGS had already been providing financial assistance to RWAs in Delhi to maintain existing parks, as well as carve out new ones. “ ₹2.55 lakh per acre can be given to each RWA to redevelopment and maintenance of parks and an addition ₹1 lakh per acre can be given to them for development and maintenance of new parks. In addition, funds are also provided to install local STPs,” said the official, stating more parks can be created in areas where there is a requirement. To avail this, the RWA however needs to approach the DPGS and fill a form on the website.